Volunteer chaplain program celebrating 50 years of service at Blessing Hospital

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QUINCY — The volunteer chaplain program at Blessing Hospital is celebrating 50 years of service to patients and staff during 2022. 

The Quincy Ministerial Association gave the program life when it formed a volunteer corps of clergy to minister to Blessing Hospital patients without a church affiliation. It was one of the first such programs at any hospital in the country.  

“The Blessing Hospital volunteer chaplain program is well known and highly respected around the country,” said Christy Woodward, director of volunteer services, the department under which the volunteer chaplain program operates. “It has received state and national recognition, including having been awarded the American Hospital Association’s highest award for volunteer excellence in 1994. It has served as a model nationwide for other hospitals starting volunteer chaplaincy programs.”

Chaplains are available to serve the needs of Blessing’s patients, loved ones and staff. For patients and their loved ones, chaplains provide pastoral care to those with no specific affiliation/preference or who have no faith leader available. Their service includes spiritual intervention during a major health crisis or trauma, spiritual and emotional support before surgery, offering communion and serving as support group facilitators. Chaplains are also available to support staff in need of spiritual care after a particularly stressful healthcare event, or for any other spiritual need. 

The Blessing Hospital Volunteer Chaplaincy Program has evolved during the past 50 years to meet the needs of a growing and diverse community. The program consists of more than 30 volunteer spiritual caregivers – including professional and lay clergy –  two staff chaplains and a chaplaincy program coordinator. 

“The volunteer spiritual caregivers come from many religious denominations and backgrounds, and they join together to provide one of the highest quality chaplaincy services of its kind to be found anywhere,” Woodward said. “The chaplain staff has a wealth of resources and experience from which to draw as it seeks to meet the spiritual and religious needs of today’s increasingly diverse health care patients.”

Woodward says Blessing plans a formal celebration in September.  

She encourages any member of the public with has a story to share regarding care they received from a Blessing chaplain to send it to her at Christy.woodward@blessinghealth.org or to Blessing Hospital, c/o Christy Woodward, P.O. Box 7005, Quincy, Ill. 62305-7005.

Blessing has a full-time paid chaplain position open at this time. Go to blessinghealth.org/careers, click on “Explore All Careers” and search “chaplain” for more information and to apply.  Those interested in volunteering with the Blessing Chaplain program should contact Prudence Bickhaus Martin, chaplaincy program coordinator, at 217-223-8400, ext. 6825, or prudence.bickhausmartin@blessinghealth.org.

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